THE Pakistan cricket team’s roller-coaster campaign in the ICC World Twenty20 finally came to an end in Colombo on Thursday with their semi-final defeat against hosts Sri Lanka. Living up to their reputation of being the most unpredictable outfit in the game, the Pakistanis made heavy weather of a rather small target of 140 to lose the contest by 16 runs on a track that held no perils for the batsmen. Sri Lanka, despite being a competitive side and enjoying home advantage, were by no means better equipped than Mohammad Hafeez and his charges for the T20 format. However, credit must be given to them for keeping their cool in the end and outplaying the opposition for a spot in the final.
Although the Pakistanis delighted fans by taming the formidable Australians and South Africans in the thrilling event, their inexplicable loss in the semifinal as well as in the crucial game against arch-rivals India in the Super Eight stage raises some serious questions about their ability to sustain their act on the cricket field, especially when playing under pressure. It also put a question mark on the future of some of its most experienced players including Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik and Abdul Razzaq. The three veterans of Pakistan cricket are clearly a shadow of what they were during their heyday and would be well-advised to hang up their boots. The overall leadership of skipper Hafeez is also bound to be put under the microscope. On more than one occasion he failed to read the pitch correctly and his persistence with opener Imran Nazir and all-rounder Yasir Arafat and the constant omission of talented Asad Shafiq has put off cricket enthusiasts. The way forward would involve inducting new blood into the team and more purposeful input from coach Dav Whatmore.